Did you know expert investors recommend you keep 5% to 10% of your portfolio value in alternative assets? Buying physical gold bullion diversifies your investments into a tangible asset that you can hold in your hands.
However, buying gold isn't as straightforward as it seems. There are many places to buy gold online, and some may turn to sites like Craigslist looking for a good deal. You see, gold is a marketable metal with few restrictions on its sale.
As a result, there is a regulated bullion market and a private, unregulated market to purchase precious metals. Unregulated private marketplaces, like Craigslist and eBay, have people offering gold bullion for sale in the form of coins, bars, and jewelry.
Often, these sites will list bullion for less than what you would pay for the yellow metal with a bullion dealer. It might seem like a good deal, but is buying gold on Craigslist a good idea?
In this guide
The pitfalls are obvious
Buying gold on Craigslist might seem like a good idea, especially if you find it offered at a price lower than the current spot price of gold. However, there's some significant risk attached to ordering your gold bullion through dealers or private persons on Craigslist.
First, the obvious problem is that people could scam you. They'll accept your money and then never send you any gold. With a single gold coin costing thousands of dollars, it's an attractive scamming market, and plenty of them operate on private marketplaces like Craigslist.
You also have to contend with people that will send you fake coins and bars. There is an old scam still doing the rounds where fake dealers gold-plated tungsten bars and coins. Since tungsten and gold have about the same molecular weight, inexperienced buyers might not be able to tell they bought a fake coin or bar.
Purchasing gold from Craigslist also presents a security risk. Essentially, the seller knows that you buy gold bullion. They also know your address, and they can sell this information to criminals or use it themselves to rob you.
What fraud protection does Craigslist provide?
Craigslist doesn't provide any fraud protection for transactions occurring in its marketplace. The company does its best to post web pages about how to stay safe when conducting transactions.
There are informative articles available to help you navigate a deal with successful results, but there are no guarantees everything goes to plan with your purchase.
Instead of buying your gold bullion on Craigslist, make your purchase through a reputable dealer you can trust. There are several different ways to buy gold online, and all of them can help you make a clean, safe transaction.
Reputable bullion dealers
Purchasing from a reputable bullion dealer is the best method for buying precious metals. Reputable dealers should offer you a clean deal, charging you the spot price on the bullion, plus a 1% to 3% commission for processing the transaction.
Reputable dealers won't sell your information to third parties, and they offer secure premises to conduct your transaction. However, the issue with purchasing through a dealer is the storage. You'll have to open a private vault or safety deposit box with a secure institution or bank in order to store your gold.
Vaulted offers you a one-stop solution for buying, selling, and storing gold online. Vaulted is an American-based firm offering Americans and Canadians the chance to invest in precious metals in small, monthly transactions.
The company lets you set up auto-investing strategies where it takes a fixed monthly amount from your bank account and invests the money into a gold portfolio. When you reach a 5 gram bar value in your account, you can choose to take physical delivery of the bar or keep it in safe custody with Vaulted in exchange for an annual fee.
OWNx is an alternative to Vaulted for investing in precious metals, including gold.
ETFs like SPDR Gold Trust ETF
ETFs don't offer you access to physical gold bullion. Essentially, you're purchasing a paper contract giving you the right to own gold.
However, these contracts rarely ever see delivery, and traders pass them along to each other, trying to make a profit based on the price they pay for the contract and what they sell it for to another investment firm.
As a result, you never have the physical bullion in your hands; all you have is the equivalent value in a trading account. With ETFs, you get exposure to the price changes due to gold price volatility. However, if the market crashes, you don't actually own any gold.
Still want to buy on Craigslist?
If you just can't get over that great deal you saw on Craigslist, here are some tips to protect yourself.
Check out the seller thoroughly
The seller should have some link or way of verifying their past seller history on the platform. Only buy from sellers that can prove they have a track record of consistently delivering for their clients. Avoid purchasing from first-time sellers, as this strategy is obviously a scam.
Message them and judge for yourself
Message the seller and ask them about the process they use for making a sale. If there are any red flags, walk away. For instance, the seller asks you to make a direct wire deposit into their account before delivering the bullion.
Use a credit card with purchase protection if possible
If you're paying for your purchase online, make sure you do it with a payment app like Venmo or Cashapp, as these companies provide payment protection on your investment.
Using a credit card with fraud protection provided in your terms and conditions of use is also a good payment strategy for purchasing your bullion.
It's not a great idea to purchase your gold bullion through Craigslist. The chances of a scammer ripping you off are high. It's a better idea to get your bullion through a registered, reputable dealer or through an online platform like Vaulted.